Tuesday, 30 March 2010

TOTAL Greek Yogurt & Chocolate Puddings


Having received virtually a fridge load of TOTAL Greek yogurt to try I have, not surprisingly, been using and making quite a few things with yogurt recently - it wasn't a hardship! I had both full fat and 0% fat varieties to try. Not generally being a fan of low fat, I dived straight into the full fat version, which was particularly thick, lush and creamy. It was delicious just eaten straight out of the tub. Chocolate pudding immediately sprang to mind, mostly because I had just seen this luscious looking chocolate banoffee cup on the Ordinary Cook's site and knew I wanted to make something similar. In the end I made something quite dissimilar, so I still have the original recipe to look forward to. Here's what I did:
  • Melted 100g milk chocolate (I used divine) with 1 tbsp date syrup.
  • Stirred in 200g TOTAL full fat Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp amaretto.
  • Poured into two individual bowls and decorated with white chocolate shavings.
This was surprisingly impressive for such a fast and simple dish to prepare and one I shall be using when I need a quick dessert I can prepare in advance for guests. It would be great with a layer of sliced strawberries underneath and maybe an orange liqueur rather than amaretto. CT, who had no idea I was making these, got very excited and thought they were so delicious that they should become a regular item on our dinner table.

Because of its creaminess, it worked really well in the chocolate & lime cheesecake which I couldn't help making again as I had the very good excuse of an abundance of yogurt to use up! It also worked exceptionally well incorporated into the topping on the chocolate lavender cake I recently made.

Although not generally a fan of low fat products - fat has been unfairly demonised in my opinion - I was quite impressed with the taste and texture of this 0% fat product. CT, who is also not a fan, took a couple of the 150g tubs to work for his lunch and enjoyed them. The 0% fat, being lighter, worked well in cakes. I made some delicious passionfruit and white chocolate cupcakes, which I shall be posting about later. They turned out to be really light and had a great consistency, so I put this down to the yogurt. I also used some in the simnel cake I've made, but as I haven't tried it yet, I couldn't possibly comment!

CT and I tried this with both muesli and granola. As it was so thick, it didn't actually work very well, there wasn't enough liquid in it to soften the grains. It could have been thinned down with milk, but that seemed rather to defeat the object.

Just in case anyone is thinking that I survive solely on a diet of chocolate, I did use the yogurt in a couple of savoury dishes. I thought I would try the full fat variety in mashed potato instead of the usual butter and milk and I was seriously impressed with how creamy the potato turned out with the added bonus of a yogurty tang. We grow purple fleshed potatoes hence the rather strange hue of this mash in the photo. As it is so rich, thick and creamy, I thought I'd try it as a sour cream substitute and used it to accompany the cocoa refried beans that I make from time to time. Both CT and myself thought it worked just as well as the original sour cream.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Three Bars from The Chocolate Cafe


Three 100g bars from The Chocolate Cafe arrived in the post the other day and I was most excited. Having ripped open the padded envelope and bubble wrap, the first thing I noticed was the distinctive packaging which, with my penchant for red, really drew my eye. Each bar is wrapped in matt paper the colour of the chocolate it is safeguarding with the chocolate cafe printed in red and the chocolate cafe's logo - a sploosh (my words not theirs) of what I take to be molten chocolate, also in red.

Not having reviewed chocolate before, I wasn't quite sure where to start. So I thought I would do a taste comparison with equivalent bars that I am more familiar with, in this instance from Green & Blacks. This actually worked really well, except it doubled the quantities of chocolate consumed - oh well, not exactly a hardship! I hasten to add, we did not do all the tasting at one sitting.

70% Premium Dark Chocolate - cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
The first thing I noticed was the fragrant spicy smell that arose when I opened the wrapper - most enticing. These first impressions were reinforced when we tried some, it was smooth and creamy with coffee tones coming through first followed by almonds. The G&B 70% bar had a sharper smell and tasted more bitter & acidic leaving an aftertaste reminiscent of tobacco - CT thought it was more like coca cola (this is not good in our book). It was coarse and lacked subtlety, leaving a not particularly pleasant coating inside the mouth and throat. What struck us most about the Chocolate Cafe bar was that unlike most dark chocolate, a couple of squares were not enough - we wanted more, not something either of us say very often about dark chocolate. We really liked it. 9/10

Premium Milk Chocolate (33.6% cocoa) - sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
I was really looking forward to trying this as milk chocolate is my number one favourite when it comes to eating chocolate in bar form. It had a nice firm texture and a fine grain structure and gave a satisfying snap when broken. Comfortingly smooth in the mouth, yet not cloying, it was sweet, but not overpoweringly so. Flavours - CT detected coconut, but I was getting delicious caramel notes to begin with and then, strangely but pleasantly, peanut butter. What a disappointment the G&B milk was in comparison - it was coarse and acidic with an almost metallic aftertaste; how could I have failed to notice this before? The two reservations I had with this bar were: 1) it was a little too sweet for my taste, 2) I would have preferred a higher cocoa content, although I did enjoy the caramel flavours. But all in all it is a delicious bar and we both very much enjoyed eating it. 8/10

Premium White Chocolate (28% cocoa) - sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
Having fond childhood memories of white chocolate (of a brand which shall remain nameless), I hoped for a similar experience. It started well, breaking with a good snap and initially felt smooth in the mouth. This was about the best we could say for it as we found it to be a generic white chocolate without any individuality. It tasted foremost of milk powder and the vanilla was hard to detect. We both found it to be cloying and it left a not altogether pleasant coating around the mouth. The G&B bar by contrast, was really great with a powerful vanilla flavour and a good texture which was not in the least bit cloying. 4/10

Being somewhat of an idealist, I would prefer it if these bars were fairly traded and better still organic. However, overall we enjoyed trying these chocolate bars and came to realise just how much variation there is between different high cocoa content bars.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Feeling Full In Fowey


Fowey is one of our favourite local destinations, but we don't manage to get there very often. However, we succeeded a couple of weeks ago - how time flies - and had a very enjoyable time of it! In fact it was the 5th March, St Piran's Day, the patron saint of Cornwall so what better cause for celebration. Occasionally we drive to Polruan or Bodinnick and take one of the ferries, but this time we drove to Fowey itself. Parking up at the top of the hill, we wandered down through the winding lanes and alleyways, past the obligatory ancestral pile and through the churchyard to the river and main part of town.


Having watched a big china clay tanker go up the river (Fowey is a deep water port), we wandered upriver ourselves, passing a number of little shops and galleries until we got to the Bodinnick Ferry where the cars can cross the water. We surmised that this was where the station must have been when the railway used to come to Fowey and then seeing a road named "Station Road" we decided to follow it. We ended up on the Saints Way, a long distance footpath and went through a delightful woodland ending up at the top of the hill overlooking the Fowey river and town. We were both much impressed with the wide expanse of water featured below.


The treat of the day was, as usual to have lunch at Pinky Murphy's Cafe as we find the food there to be exceptionally good. We are obviously not alone in this, it is quite a popular haunt and it has been known for us to be turned away due to lack of space. We were lucky this time and sat down contentedly upstairs in our favourite location, both diving to the bookshelves so we could peruse our chosen literature while we waited for our lunch. Pinky Murphy's is a quirky but fun establishment and has an eclectic mix of, well, everything - cutlery, crockery and furnishings all delightfully mismatched with, surprise surprise, many shades of pink to be found scattered about.


Although the desserts looked tempting, we decided we really ought to get out in the spring sunshine before it disappeared. For our afternoon perambulation we went up to the castle on the south side of the town, passing Ready Money Cove on our way. After sitting on some rocks by the castle, soaking up the sun, we exerted ourselves further by walking along the cliff path for a while. The sea was a dazzling blue and naturally we had to stop and appreciate it further. A thoughtfully placed bench provided us with the necessary back support. Never has working up an appetite for tea been so pleasant!


As the sun started to sink into the ocean we knew it was time for tea. Decision time - cake was a must - did we go back to Pinky Murphy's for the rather delectable chocolate refrigerator cake we had seen earlier or should we try somewhere different? We opted for adventure and ended up at The Dwelling House, a tea shop which specialised in teas for the connoisseur - not that we fit that category, but thought we'd give it a go. The chocolate cake was delicious, aided no doubt, by the huge dollop of clotted cream. The tea was also excellent. My Silver Needles (white tea) was served in a wonderfully designed teapot which would not look out of place in a Japanese tea ceremony - hardly surprising as it was from Japan. The tea ambiance was reinforced by the singular sight of teacups hanging in picture frames all around the room.


Fully replenished, we staggered slowly up the hill secure in the knowledge that we had yet again shown no restraint. But it was fun!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Chocolate Breakfast Competition - Results

Thank you to all who entered this competition and thank you also to Dorset Cereals for providing this great prize. All the lovely ideas you've shared are much appreciated. As you can imagine, it was really hard to come up with a single entry that we liked the best - there were so many good ones. I did think, fleetingly, of trying them all out and in an ideal world (one where I was a lady of leisure) I would have done.

I had my own attempt at being creative for breakfast this morning, but it wasn't the success I was hoping for - see the photo and you'll understand why. I had some left over purple mashed potato and thought this would be great baked in the oven with an egg and some of Willie's 100% Cocoa grated over the top. The cocoa worked fine and enhanced the flavour, but the egg went all hard and rubbery. CT said it reminded him of toxic mine waste and was glad he wasn't around for breakfast. Needless to say, I will not be awarding myself the prize!

Where to start? Actually, Chele got it off to a really good start with her chocolate French toast sandwich - that one has to go on my list of things to try. Jacqueline's chocolate waffles and chocolate milk also sounded rather yummy - especially with the imaginative addition of pear and ginger. The sound of churros dipped in hot chocolate really makes my mouth water and I would love to try them, but perhaps on holiday with someone else making them. Thanks for the recipe though - one never knows! Breakfast scones from LPATRI11 were sounding like a healthier option until the chocolate spread (and cream) came into the equation - liked the sound of these too.

I really loved Emma's story of childhood bread and chocolate by the sea - that has to be the best setting for breakfast. Hilary's chocolate pancakes sounded fun and chocolate loaf cake rather decadent. As delicious as pain au chocolat is, it is indeed "fairly traditional". Janice is after a complete chocolate and sugar fix with her triple chocolate and fudge porridge - I dare you to have more than one bowl. I liked Wendy's idea of something savoury with a mole sauce, but given that I'm vegetarian wasn't too keen on the leftover meat. Suelle's chocolate, chilli and lime bread certainly appeals to Oxslip. It appeals to me too although neither CT nor I are coffee drinkers. Celia's honorary entry of a good hot chocolate is so appealing I've just sent CT off to make one. Oxslip's mix of French sourdough, English marmalade and Dutch vermicelli is an interesting European take on the breakfast idea. More pancakes from Emma but with chocolate sauce this time. I appreciated her talk of bolstering the sugary confection with some nutritious nuts. Really liked Wenchie's seasonally adaptable idea for a gooey chocolate and banana mix to accompany yogurt or porridge. Although I'm not a big banana eater I am very tempted to try this. Another vote for pain au chocolat from Hannah, but I think I liked her almond and chocolate pastries more. As I actually like to have a fairly healthy start to the day, I also liked the idea of fresh fruit dipped in melted chocolate. Louise's idea of chunks of chopped chocolate in granola sounds like a good way of bumping up the cocoa content of granola and a nice way to start the day. Thank you Louise for Orangette's recipe - I shall be trying it.

So, CT and I have cogitated and ummed and ahhed and tried to come to a decision - arghhhh!

Hard as it was, we both independently, without conferring, came to the same conclusion - the winner is:

Suelle - with her suggestion of Chocolate, Chilli and Lime Bread. Congratulations.

It combines my interest in chocolate, lime, chillies and bread making. I can imagine stumbling out of bed and being revived by a stimulating hit of eye opening chilli, refreshing lime and uplifting chocolate. It's also not too sweet - as much as we both have a sweet tooth, neither of us can really face a big sugar hit first thing in the morning. We'll pass on the coffee though and have a nice steaming pot of hot chocolate instead. I guess I'm going to have to make this now!

Suelle can you send me your postal address via my e-mail (nammar at tiscali dot co dot uk) so that I can pass it on to Dorset Cereals who will send your prize.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Chocolate Lavender Cake


The herbal medicine course I've been trying to organise for some considerable time now is (cross fingers) going ahead tomorrow. The original date was back in January, but it had to be cancelled as the medical herbalist was ill. It's a day course and for lunch we are all bringing food to share - so of course I am bringing cake! I saw this chocolate slab cake over at Celia's wonderful blog, Fig Jam & Lime Cordial and it looked to be just the thing for feeding a crowd (not that 14 of us could really be considered a crowd). A Forkful of Spaghetti wondered if I was making a herbal cake given I was going on a herbal course. Now why didn't I think of that? As soon as she asked the question, I knew immediately I would use lavender. I have been wanting to make a cake using lavender for ages, but haven't yet found the opportunity - until now. I decided to substitute lavender for the vanilla extract stated in the recipe.

So this is how I made it:
  • Put 1 heaped tsp lavender buds into a teapot and poured over 440ml boiling water. Left to infuse for 1 hour. Strained off and heated in a pan to near boiling.
  • Broke 6oz 85% dark chocolate into a bowl then poured the hot lavender water over it. Left for a few minutes to melt then stirred until smooth.
  • Sifted together 300g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 gluten free), 2 tsp bicarb of soda, 110g cocoa and a pinch of salt.
  • Creamed 285g unsalted butter with 380g brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs alternately with the flour mixture.
  • Stirred in the chocolate ganache until thoroughly mixed.
  • Spooned mixture into a 9" square cake thingie and baked for about 40 mins at 175C. It would probably have been better to use a bigger cake tin, but I didn't have one - luckily it rose just enough not to spill out over the sides and it did make for quite a nice deep cake.
  • Left to cool a little then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Melted 100g 70% dark chocolate with 50g unsalted butter and 1 tbsp golden syrup. Left to cool slightly.
  • Stirred in 200ml Greek yogurt - (I used TOTAL full fat).
  • Spread this over cooled cake.
  • Scattered a few dried lavender buds over the top.
The course did indeed go ahead, which was lucky in view of the rather large cake I'd made!

I was really pleased with this wonderful slab cake of Celia's and luckily the course did indeed go ahead. It went down a storm amongst the course participants - the course and the cake. The lavender touch was appreciated too. Not having used lavender before in baking I was a little concerned the flavour might be either overwhelming or obscured by the chocolate. But oh, I managed to get it just right. Everyone could taste the lavender, but it was by no means overpowering. The cake rose well, was light and moist but also firm enough so that when cut the pieces stayed together. The cake was topped off nicely by the tangy chocolate and yogurt icing. All agreed this was completely delicious and it demonstrated that lavender has culinary as well as medical applications. If ever a chocolate cake was needed to feed a crowd, this has to be the one.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Chocolate Lime and Buttermilk Cake


After a hard day spent trying to play catch-up on the allotment last weekend, we needed cake! Having been inspired some time ago by two virtually simultaneous posts using lime and buttermilk, I had been storing up this rather luscious sounding idea - check out Hilary's Lime Buttermilk Cake and the Caked Crusader's Lime Syrup Buttermilk Cake. Now as good as these cakes sounded, surely they could be improved by a little chocolate! This is how I adapted, combined and re-imagined these two recipes.
  • Creamed 180g light muscovado sugar with 200g unsalted butter until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in grated zest of 1 lime followed by 2 egg yolks.
  • Sifted 200g flour (I used 30g coconut flour, 70g white spelt and 100g wholemeal spelt), 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 1 tsp baking powder
  • Added this to the butter and sugar mixture alternately with 200ml buttermilk.
  • Whisked 2 eggs whites until stiff then folded into the cake mixture.
  • Spooned this into a 23 cm round cake thingy.
  • Baked at 180C for 40 mins.
  • Gently heated 50g granulated sugar in juice of 1 lime in a pan until dissolved.
  • As soon as the cake was removed from the oven, made small holes all over the cake with a toothpick and poured the warm syrup over the top.
  • Left to cool, then decorated with shavings of white chocolate.
I have to say I was disappointed with this cake. It tasted lovely and the lime came out good and strong with a delicious tanginess that made a good contrast to the sweetness of the cake. But the consistency was not in the least sponge like, it was like a bread pudding - solid! I was really excited (sad I know) about using buttermilk in a cake and was convinced it would give a particularly light texture - how far off the mark I was. I don't know what I did wrong, surely all that whisking of the egg white had to have done something - maybe it was the coconut flour, maybe I didn't get a good balance of ingredients or maybe I forgot to use the baking powder (this has been known to happen). I was also excited about using coconut flour for the first time. Now I'm wondering whether I dare risk using it in cakes again. However, the flavours were great, so I shall not be defeated and will try to make a better stab at something similar another time. CT tells me I worry too much and that the cake is delicious as it is. I have my pride, however.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Chocolate Breakfast Competition


Now my blog has passed its first blogiversary, it seems like the right sort of time to run a competition. Interested? Here's what to do:

Give me your most inspired ideas for a great chocolate themed breakfast via the comments link at the bottom of this post by 22:00 GMT on Saturday 20th March.

CT and myself will be judging the competition on originality but, more importantly how much we'd like to have your suggestions for our own breakfast. Our decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into.

The prize is a jute bag containing 3 boxes of each of the delicious chocolate granolas described in this previous post, along with a Dorset Cereals bowl to eat it in. I'm already feeling envious!

Apologies to overseas visitors but whilst I look forward to reading all comments and ideas, the prize is only available to those living in the UK.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Chocolate & Lime Cheesecake Surprise


Party going family members en route from Gloucestershire to Falmouth, thoughtfully stopped by for lunch at the weekend. Time to revive an old favourite which I hadn't actually made for years. Scouring my memory for the recipe proved more difficult than I'd expected - quantities were the problem rather than ingredients. The beauty of this recipe is that you can play around with both quantities and ingredients to suit evolving tastes. It originally came from one of my aunts and used hazelnut yogurt. I used plain yogurt and bits of roasted hazelnuts for ages but, it has been undergoing a slow metamorphosis over the years. Sometimes I use plain chocolate, sometimes milk. I've also incorporated the chocolate directly into the cheesecake mixture rather than having it as a separate layer. This latest incarnation replaces the original hazelnuts with lime. This is what I did:
  • Placed 8oz digestive biscuits into a bowl and bashed them with the end of a rolling pin until they were crumb like.
  • Melted 4oz unsalted butter and mixed into the biscuit crumbs.
  • Poured this into a round 20cm " flan dish and moulded it to fit the bottom and sides (as you would with pastry).
  • Melted nearly all of two 100g bars milk chocolate (as it's fairtrade fortnight, I used Divine for a change), keeping a few squares back for decoration.
  • Poured this on top of biscuit base and spread out as much as possible. Left to set.
  • Mixed 3oz cream cheese with 1/2 oz granulated sugar (more sugar could easily be used here, but I didn't want anything too sweet as I was using milk chocolate).
  • Whipped 250 ml double cream until soft peaks formed.
  • Mixed in 250 ml plain yogurt.
  • Stirred this into cheese until well incorporated.
  • Grated the zest of 1 lime and added 3/4 of this to the cheese mixture.
  • Spooned mixture onto the set chocolate layer and smoothed out.
  • Grated the reserved chocolate on top and scattered the remaining lime zest over the surface.
This was as good as I remembered and was a real hit with my visitors. The chocolate layer always comes as pleasant surprise and elicited the usual oohs and ahs that I've come to expect with this creation. The combination of salty bicuity crumb, sweet chocolate and tangy cream filling is a particularly good one. The flavour of lime permeates the whole cheesecake, despite the small quantities involved. Why, I wonder has it been so long since I last made it?

I've decided to enter this post for the Cornishware Competition on FoodForFriendsYeah as it's such a great dessert!

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